“Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs is a terrific book title,” Charles Arthur writes for The Guardian. “Pity the book doesn’t live up to it… A Wall Street Journal reporter [Yukari Iwatani Kane] tries to answer the question of whether Apple’s innovation has burnt out after its founder’s death. But if you’ve already decided that it has, shouldn’t you have some evidence too?”
“The problem is this: Steve Jobs was a compelling figure. There was nobody quite like him in technology because he had had the success (with Apple in its early days) and the failure (with NeXT, his next startup), and returned to make Apple a success again, pulling it back by its shirttails as it teetered on the cliff of bankruptcy (from which it was only 90 days away in 1996 when he rejoined). He could spin plausible lines, and near-enough lies, and enthuse people into believing him. As a manager, he was by all accounts ruthless, charming and terrifying. His death has highlighted how none of the Apple executives quite has his ability to hold a stage and spin a story,” Arthur writes. “This much is known. Tim Cook, picked by Jobs, often looks ill at ease on stage. He’s regarded as a numbers guy, the man who helped pull Apple out of that nosedive in the late 1990s (he joined in 1998) and since then has grown it to be the only other company besides the gigantic conglomerate Samsung which can turn out more than 50m smartphones for sale in a single three-month period.”
“I read this book hoping to get a clearer picture of Cook. But as with many areas, the books fails to give that,” Arthur writes. “Ultimately, I was unsatisfied by this book. Still, as I say, it’s a great title. I’d still like to know whether staff at Apple rue the day, and wish ol’ Steve was still there – or if they just shrug and say “yeah, got stuff to do right now” and move on. Trouble is, this book won’t tell you. Perhaps someone else will one day.”
Read more in the full review here.